Tesco: supermarket chair John Allan to stand down after allegations he inappropriately touched staff members
Allan faces allegations he has inappropriately touched staff members, which he has “vigorously denied”
Tesco has announced chairman John Allan will step down from his role next month after allegations of misconduct “risk becoming a distraction” to the supermarket, but says he remains "determined to prove my innocence".
Allan faces four allegations in relation to his personal conduct, three of which he “vigorously denied”, and one over which he “unreservedly apologised” - for inappropriate comments made to a female member of staff.
The claims, first reported by The Guardian, include allegations that Allan allegedly touched the bottom of a senior member of Tesco staff in June 2022, at the company’s AGM. It was also alleged that he touched the bottom of a staff member at the business lobbying group the Confederation of British Industry, at its annual dinner in May 2019.
The UK's largest supermarket chain said it had conducted a thorough review of Mr Allan’s behaviour during its annual general meeting in 2022, and found no evidence or complaints in relation to the annual general meeting (AGM), “or at all in his tenure as Tesco chair”. The supermarket said it made “no findings of wrongdoing” against John Allan, whose tenure was coming to an end anyway.
He will step down at Tesco’s AGM on 16 June and the firm has begun looking for his successor. Mr Allan said he regretted having to stand down from the job following “utterly baseless” allegations against him.
Mr Allan said: “It is with regret that I am having to prematurely stand down from my position as chair of Tesco Plc following the anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations made against me, as reported by The Guardian.
“These allegations are utterly baseless, as the internal procedures undertaken by Tesco prove. Tesco undertook an “extensive internal review” which included inviting Tesco employees and ex-employees to come forward on an anonymous basis if they had concerns about my conduct.
“Tesco also conducted outreach to those who attended the meeting where the incident allegedly happened, and video footage of the meeting has also been reviewed. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing at that time or at any stage of my chairmanship at Tesco and I remain determined to prove my innocence," he continued.
Byron Grote, who has stepped in as interim chair, said: “John has made a valuable contribution to Tesco during his eight years as chair. He has successfully led the board through the turnaround and Covid whilst helping to rebuild the business."
He added: "While we have received no complaints about John’s conduct and made no findings of wrongdoing, these allegations risk becoming a distraction to Tesco."
Grote added: “On behalf of the board, I thank him for his substantial contribution to the business. We are well advanced in our search for a new chair and will make an announcement in due course.”